Photography BA (Hons)

Full-time undergraduate (3 years, 4 years with foundation year)




Explore and experiment with photographic practices by studying our full-time Photography degree at Cambridge School of Art, ARU. Choose to take part in photography field trips, and get support to find work placements. Learn to create images that tell compelling stories with real impact whether your dream is to be a fashion or fine art photographer or photojournalist.

Full description


Our BA (Hons) Photography will help you prepare for work in the photographic, creative and media industries, or for self-employment as a photographer or artist.

Careers events

We hold regular career development events which you can take part in while you’re studying with us. Our recent guest speakers have included Tom Hunter, Jane Hilton, Tim Flach, Hannah Starkey, Carole Evans, Alastair Levy, Mike Crawford and Lillian Wilkie.

Work experience

We work with employers to make sure you graduate with the knowledge, skills and abilities they need. They help us review what we teach and how we teach it – and they offer hands-on, practical opportunities to learn through work-based projects, internships or placements.

You can choose to take up either formal or informal work placements that will help you establish your own professional network, including opportunities such as working for magazines, galleries and photographers.

Around the university you can also take advantage of many opportunities to use and promote your skills, such as working with staff and students to photograph their events, while our dedicated student employment bureau will help you find photographic jobs both in and outside university.

Find out more about our placements and work experience, or the faculty's employability support.

Modules & assessment

Level 3 (foundation year)

  • Foundation in Art and Design
    This module will provide students with the necessary skills to begin studying at level 4 in art, design and related courses. Students will be introduced to the core skills necessary to succeed in higher education, including researching and referencing appropriately, demonstrating appropriate ICT skills, and communicating effectively verbally and in writing. Students will be introduced to practical art and design skills including developing skills of visual storytelling, image-making both in traditional and digital media, visual language and communication, formulating an independent creative response to a broad range of subject matter. Students will also be introduced to the fundamentals of design from a creative perspective, and to some of the key ideas/movements dominating art, design and culture, during the past few centuries. Students will work extensively in groups and collaboratively, with students from art and design, architecture and engineering pathways. The module is made up of the following eight constituent elements: Interactive Learning Skills and Communication (ILSC); Information Communication Technology (ICT); Composition and Style; Creative Workshops 1; Approach to Design; Critical and Contextual Studies; Creative Workshops 2; Specialist Project.

Year one, core modules

  • Photography: Practice and Context
    This module takes a unique approach by integrating theory and practice through lectures and practical workshops, giving you holistic opportunities to appreciate the significant relationship between the two approaches through practical, experimental application and research-practice opportunities. It offers technology-enhanced learning and teaching delivery in both analogue and digital production and post-production techniques. You will first be introduced to the practical and theoretical skills you need to develop critical photographic projects, exploring use of light, composition, creative camera controls, film and darkroom printing whilst developing your practice and an understanding of photographic visual language, research and theory. You will also have the opportunity to experiment with a range of alternative outcomes through appropriate methods of risk-taking, while an introduction to Lightroom will give you the tools to catalogue your images and discuss the use of metadata. You will also be introduced to historical and contemporary photographic theory, including an introduction to the wider fields that interconnect with the subject such as cultural studies, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and politics, and get an insight into photography’s relationship to theories of representation, identity and culture. A 24-hour project will provide you with the development of employment skills in a real-world scenario, where you will respond to a photographic brief within a tight time-frame. Your final submission at the end of Trimester 1 will include the development and research book, evidence of contextual and historic research in the form of an essay and a set of digital and analogue photographic prints. In Trimester 2, the module will further develop your photographic skill set and an awareness of how your own photography can contribute to and critically reflect upon a range of genres in photography. You will explore the relationship of photographic influences to your own practice, and single and multiple studio flash lighting in a range of genres including still life, fashion and portraiture, and discuss the appropriate use of different camera formats, while practical workshops will introduce you to the creative use of analogue colour printing and scanning negatives, and producing colour analogue and digital prints from negatives. Research and writing workshops will also introduce you to a range of photographic genres and you will discuss how contextual research influences current practice, producing a critical response to a photographer’s work by analysing their practice and responding creatively to your findings. You will also create a contextual and creative response to photographic practitioner and present it in an internal student research conference. Your final submission at the end of Trimester 2 will include the development and research book, evidence of one expanded area of research and practice in the form of an essay and developed body of photographic work and evidence of your ‘In the style of’ photographic work and research.
  • Production and Multi-Media
    This is an intensive practice-based module that will introduce you to the fundamentals of lighting, the digital post-production workflow and time-based media as integral parts of photographic practice. You will explore the practical use of constant and available lighting for photographic capture; digital imaging techniques using Photoshop; and time-based media processes and presentation methods, through a series of lectures, practice-based workshops and discussions, where you will be actively working on a range of projects and activities, individually and in groups. The emphasis is on learning key skills and gaining knowledge in these rapidly evolving aspects of photographic practice through creative experimentation and enquiry. You will explore the relationship between techniques, methods and ideas through assigned projects, class activities and self-guided learning, as well as exploring the historical and contextual aspects of photographic lighting and cinema and the work of practitioners in the fields of studio, time-based and digital practice to complement and enrich your practical work. The module will include technical workshops, fieldwork and study visits to museums and art galleries. You will have access to technical resources during timetabled taught and self-guided sessions. Your research and progress will be evaluated through a combination of tutorials, self-assessment and peer group reviews, which provide an arena for critical exchange and formative feedback.

Year two, core modules

  • Contemporary Issues and Debates
    This module builds on the histories, contexts, and ideas introduced at Level 4, and will enable you to begin building a critical framework in which to situate yourself and your own developing practice. We aim to produce creative, socially aware and critically-informed professionals, and this module will engage you with the ethical considerations and responsibilities that are increasingly important for professionals today. You’ll explore contemporary issues and debates within creative practice through examples that address, complicate and solve some of the problems we face globally today. The module content will respond to current issues. To reflect this, your learning activities will be open and flexible, responding to current events, discourses, exhibitions and emerging debates, and you’ll be encouraged to identify your own areas of research throughout. Having engaged with the issues that impact on the contemporary practice of your discipline, and reflected on the role of artists and designers globally today, you’ll apply this critical insight to your own future. You’ll be briefed on how to identify and develop plans for your final year research assignment by either: a) planning for a work placement by researching and identifying possible roles and opportunities in relevant industries/organisations; or b) identifying and developing a proposal for your Level 6 Research Project.
  • Media, Process, Situation
    This module offers an exciting and innovative approach to collaborative learning in an atmosphere of peer to peer dialogue across courses and cross process skills. Over two trimesters you will select three media process workshop options from areas that may include printmaking, analogue photography and time based media. In each option you will be introduced to advanced techniques in many media areas through inductions and workshops, developing new skills that you will deepen through independent practice and engagement with extra-curricular workshops. You will also consider your audience, public situation and presentation of your work, exploring a range of media options and responding to work experience and exhibition opportunities. You will produce work that responds to two separate exhibition contexts relating to location and space, one on campus and the other working off site in partnership with another institution. The exploration of related media and processes is driven by these locations, and the context these create as social and spatial environments. Following the introduction, you will produce your artwork through workshop options, developing key technical skills and abilities within specific areas of creative practice, driven by a specific media and processes, embracing light, space, techniques and audience.
  • Photographic Portfolio Practice
    This module will expand your professional practice by introducing a wide range of digital and analogue processes and skills, as well as skills in promoting and marketing your photography online. You’ll be introduced to the digital medium format, analogue medium format and 5/4in cameras along with complex studio, on-location lighting and post-production skills. With tutorial support you will define a critical path, negotiating the range of technical possibilities presented. You will research and develop an ambitious body of work, reflecting critically on the process at significant stages throughout the project’s development. The module emphasises the importance of researching and developing an individual visual language, which can explore a range of complex techniques, subject matters and photographic genres and will lead to a carefully considered published photographic sequence as a multimedia piece and/or photographic book. In practical workshops you will explore new techniques to build upon your existing skills base. A series of lectures will introduce you to photographers who work with sequenced bodies of work, methods and approaches to sequencing photography, layout of publications and the process of self-publishing. You will also develop skills in project planning and time management. The module also focuses on your acquisition, development and review of key professional marketing principles, strategies and best practices. Through a pragmatic approach grounded in established literature, it will cover the complementary dimensions of professionalism such as social media and public profile management (CV, portfolio, website); rights, permissions, ethical considerations, legal requirements and project planning. Key industry speakers will deliver innovative professional lectures while you consider one specialist, practical area of your photographic work from this module to critically reflect and promote online. Your final assessment will include a research and development journal, critical essays, contextualising your practice, documenting the project and your final publication and development of online social media and portfolio.

Year three, core modules

  • Major Project Photography
    This module provides you with the opportunity to further develop and refine your photographic practice and finalise a major body of work. Throughout the module you will consider the crucial importance of experimentation during image capture, postproduction and presentation methods. You will experiment autonomously using the facilities and workshops available to you, and will need to be critical in context and practice, acutely aware of your materials, processes, influences and contextual frameworks. You will critically investigate a range of creative solutions to practical problems. At the midpoint, you will prepare a proposal for a demanding photographic project, demonstrating your capacity to work to a planned schedule, research your creative options imaginatively, and embrace a critical framework. You will need to display, in both preparatory and finished work, an advanced understanding of the methods, techniques, materials and processes appropriate to your Major Project. Throughout both trimesters you will document your progress in a Research and Development workbook that charts your experimentation and critical contextualisation. Finally, you will evaluate and frame your practice through a critical essay. Your Research and Development work will be subject to peer and tutor formative assessment throughout the module, and summatively assessed together with your final submission. You will actively engage in group activities and 1:1 tutorials with your tutors and visiting lecturers, taking on board challenging formative feedback positively. You will also develop advanced methods of publishing and/or presenting your work by taking into account audiences and curatorial and editorial considerations, and widen your creative industry networks by taking advantage of internal and external photographic events.

Year three, optional modules

  • Research Project
    The Research Project will foster your independent study with the guidance of a tutor. You'll devise your own project that will reflect on/co-ordinate with/enhance your own studio work and interests, encouraging your self-reflexivity and critical distance. Seminars will give you a forum to learn from each other's research. You will also be supported by individual tutorials with a member of staff. The Research Project may include a variety of relevant topics, including reporting on your own work experience. You can illustrate it with photographs, drawings or video, discussing your approach with your assigned tutor. (30 credits)
  • Working in the Creative Industries
    Gaining work experience enhances your employability, and work based learning offers you the chance to key gain industry knowledge, skills, contacts and networking opportunities. This module will give you the opportunity to explore a working environment in the industry you have identified as relevant to your future career. It will encourage self-managed learning, and enhance your employability by developing your communication, personal organisation, team-working, and networking skills, as well as giving you opportunities to apply those skills to real-world experiences, thereby increasing your self-reliance and confidence. The experience can be used as a basis for directing and focusing your career plans, and can influence your final year projects. In lectures, group tutorials and seminars you’ll also explore skills analysis and reflective writing. You will need to identify, negotiate and agree with an employer (or employers) the terms of the placement in association with a module tutor, to ensure that the learning outcomes can be achieved. You’ll be given guidance and will need to submit a placement registration form and risk assessments for approval by the module tutor. The work placements may be carried out in a variety of settings depending upon your requirements, areas of interest and availability of opportunities. The minimum period will be 100 hours, and you can undertake more than one placement for the module. You’ll create a reflective report and presentation on your work experience. The report will include the application procedure you have conducted (CV, letter and portfolio); market and background information on the employer; market sector analysis; your role(s) on the placement(s); academic and vocational analysis; transferable/employability and specialist skills analysis, knowledge and experiences (opportunities, advantages, constraints, aptitudes and interests); and a final evaluation (impact on your final year and career aspirations). It will also include copies of the submitted registration and risk assessments. You’ll also need to include a workplace diary that logs activity and supports an analysis of the learning achieved.


Modules are subject to change and availability.

You’ll demonstrate your learning through both written and practical (portfolio) work, helping to prepare you for creating your own professional photography portfolio.

Where you'll study

Your department and faculty

At Cambridge School of Art, we combine the traditions of our past with the possibilities afforded by the latest technologies.

Using our expertise and connections in Cambridge and beyond, we nurture creativity through experimentation and risk-taking to empower the makers and creators of the future.

Our academics excel at both practice and theory, making a real impact in their chosen fields, whether they are curating exhibitions, designing book covers or photographing communities in Africa. They are also regularly published in catalogues, books, journals and conference papers, their research classed as being of ‘international standing’, with some elements ‘world-leading’, in the most recent Research Excellence Framework.

Where can I study?

Lord Ashcroft Building on our Cambridge campus

Our campus is close to the centre of Cambridge, often described as the perfect student city.

Explore our Cambridge campus

Field trips

Take part in our annual field trip to get experience photographing overseas locations. Our recent trips have included Venice and Prague.


Every year you’ll have the chance to enter a number of national and international competitions, which our students have regularly won or been shortlisted for, as well as those organised by Anglia Ruskin, such as the Eaton Portrait Prize and Sustainability Art Prize.

Specialist facilities

You can practice your photo-processing work in our black, white and colour darkrooms with enlargers that cater for 35mm, medium format and large format film, as well as three fully-equipped daylight and artificial light studios.

You’ll also have access to our computer laboratories equipped with Apple Macs, A4 and A3 flatbed scanners, 35mm, medium format, large format scanners, and printers capable of calibrated wide format up to 44in width.

We have a large stock of photography equipment that you can borrow, including digital cameras (DSLRs and medium format), large format cameras, lenses, light meters and lighting kits.

You can access all of our industry-standard facilities and get full training from a dedicated team of technical officers.

Find out more about Cambridge School of Art's facilities

Fees & funding

Course fees

UK & EU students starting 2020/21 (per year)


International students starting 2020/21 (per year)


Fee information

For more information about tuition fees, including the UK Government's commitment to EU students, please see our UK/EU funding pages

Additional costs

Costs depend on the direction and ambition of your work. We suggest budgeting approximately £250 for materials and work-books in the first year.

How do I pay my fees?

Tuition fee loan

UK and EU students can take out a tuition fee loan, which you won’t need to start repaying until after your graduate. Or alternatively, there's the option to pay your fees upfront.

Loans and fee payments

International students

You can pay your tuition fees upfront, in full or in two instalments. We will also ask you for a deposit of £4,000 or a sponsorship letter. Details will be in your offer letter.

Paying your fees


We offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Some of these cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Explore ARU scholarships

Funding for UK & EU students

Most new undergraduate students can apply for government funding to support their studies and university life. This includes Tuition Fee Loans and Maintenance Loans. There are additional grants available for specific groups of students, such as those with disabilities or dependants.

We also offer a fantastic range of ARU scholarships, which provide extra financial support while you’re at university. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply.

Funding for international students

We offer a number of scholarships, as well as an early payment discount. Explore your options:

Entry requirements

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Portfolio review

It is essential that you send us a digital portfolio for review.

For full information on how to prepare and submit your portfolio please visit our Cambridge School of Art portfolios page.

Important additional notes

Our published entry requirements are a guide only and our decision will be based on your overall suitability for the course as well as whether you meet the minimum entry requirements. Other equivalent qualifications may be accepted for entry to this course, please email for further information.

We don't accept AS level qualifications on their own for entry to our undergraduate degree courses. However for some degree courses a small number of tariff points from AS levels are accepted as long as they're combined with tariff points from A levels or other equivalent level 3 qualifications in other subjects.

International students

We welcome applications from international and EU students, and accept a range of international qualifications.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you'll need to make sure you meet our English language requirements for postgraduate courses.

Improving your English language skills

If you don't meet our English language requirements, we offer a range of courses which could help you achieve the level required for entry onto a degree course.

We also provide our own English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT) in the UK and overseas. To find out if we are planning to hold an ELPT in your country, contact our country managers.

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